Tuesday, March 21, 2017


It was the most golden autumn, the leafs of the trees had an amazing shade of yellow. Even the chestnut trees, which usually are rusty had a golden hue in them. The car was sliding on the the narrow road between hills covered with thick forests, so thick that to the children they looked as if covered with velvet blankets.The road curved along a large and rapid mountain river, with greenish-blue waters. The trees most closest to the river were the ones that had the most wonderful shades of yellow, and their low branches were gently touching the water. Then the forest was continuing in a mingle of yellow and red and on the top there were the evergreen conifers. Lukas, Maria and Katka were going to visit one of their favorite places: the abandoned little village in the forest. They stopped at the bottom of the hill, where a new and modern settlement had been build in the last hundred years.They parked the car and started to climb on a small path in the forest. The trees were full of yellow leafs sprayed with rain drops. The ground was covered in a carpet of leafs which crunched under their feet. Sometimes gushes of wind were blowing golden leafs which were rising in the air and dancing a strange and beautiful dance.  The children laughed and started collecting huge bouquets of yellow, rusty and golden red leafs and run through it disturbing the thick layer with their little feet.The air was filled with the autumn smells, of rain and earth and rotten plants. 
Slowly they reached the small abandoned hamlet. A few old houses were spread along the hill, not more then 20, some covered already in ivy, while young trees were already starting to grow between them. Leafs were covering the earth path winding through the middle of the village and leading to the graves in the very small cemetery. Near the cemetery stood the old church. The white color of the walls started to fade and the in some places orange bricks were visible. The roof was red, but the tiles were broken here and there, only the cross seemed golden and timeless. It was a late autumn afternoon and the sun was starting to set behind the hills sending his last warm rays through the trees of the forest. The leafs of the trees seemed as if lighted from inside. The large tree in front of the church was half in its shadow and the other half , in the light of the setting sun had a golden red hue around it as if taken from a picture in a fairy tale book. The village was empty for a few years since the old priest which lived his last months of his life here had died. He became priest more then 50 years ago and after a long live of activity,pain, traveling and extraordinary things returned to spend his last days in his old home and church.Maria could not understand why he would choose to spend your last days in a place like that. 
The parents started to clean the small graves in the cemetery and to place lighted candles on them. 
"Why do we need to come here, anyway?" she asked, thinking that she soon will have to start helping with the cleaning of the dead leafs, weed and thistles. 
"Because we promised" replied the older brother.
Lukas knew the old priest when he was alive, he used to tell him stories and teach him, so he loved him and cherished the memory. He remembered the old gentle man with his kind eyes, his white curly hair and his sweet energetic voice. For Katka who was the smallest, the trip was like an adventure. But Maria was too small when the priest died and could not remember him, and the cleaning of the old abandoned village one time a year, on the All Saints day seems like  nuisance to her.
"I did not promise anything" Maria answered simply and honestly.
"But you can help your parents keep a promise" her mother explain.
"Why do you bother, they are dead anyway?" here she showed the small cemetery. "They don't remember your promise."
The parents did not reply and continued with the cleaning. A gush of wind blew more yellow leafs dancing in the air. Maria was startled as she saw a young woman sitting in the line of the trees. She made a sign to her brother and sister and they all went towards her. She was tall and pale, dressed with a long dress, the color of chestnuts. The cold autumn wind was blowing her rich, golden red hair, left free to fall on her shoulders. Her eyes looked like two green lakes in the middle of a forest. In her hands she carried a basket filled with the roundest, juiciest, most colorful grapes they had ever seen. Maria made a small sign to Lukas to come with her and Katka followed also. They came in front of the lady and sat down around her.
"Who are you, beautiful lady?" asked Maria amazed.
"I am the autumn fairy, Amber.I came here, Maria, because I heard you are curious about the old priest who lived in this village."
"Yes, why did he come back here?"
"He kept a promise, but let me take you back in time to meet a little boy."
The scenery changed around them.The multicolored carpet of leafs cleared itself to reveal a narrow winding road in the middle of the little village. The ivy covering the small houses withered and fell leaving visible whitewashed walls full of red and blue and green flowers paintings on them. The orange and red brick roofs repaired themselves. There were flowers in the gardens and in the windows. The hamlet was squirming with life, laughter and conversation. The people were nicely dressed and carrying candles and flowers. The little church looked freshly painted, new and sparkling like a jewel.  In the cemetery the graves were covered with flowers and lighted candles. It was All Saints Day.  
The children looked around curiously seeing the dead small village alive again. From the small church suddenly came out a young boy with rich, black curly hair and dreamy eyes. It was visible on his face that he had been crying. He looked on the forest with an expression of happiness mixed with sadness and surprise. The other boys who were playing in front of the cemetery surrounded him and started laughing.
"What is happening, Andrej? Why are you crying? Are you a little girl?"
Their voices and laughter raised in the afternoon air and mingled with the cry of the birds. From the group of girls arranging flower pots in the church garden, one girl left her work, cleaned her hands and walked towards the boys.
"Isn't it nice and courageous, all of you against one" she said oblivious of her own courage. "What do you have with him?"
The parish priest who saw everything and was preparing to interfere for Andrej now remained quiet in the church door and waited to see what will happen.
"He is crying like a little girl, Helenka?
Helenka had golden hair arranged in two braids over her shoulders. Her eyes were clear blue like the sky in spring. Now she was angry, her arms crossed over her chest and her face red.
"What does it mean, cry like a little girl? I am a girl and i don't cry."
"You are a weird girl" stated one of the boys.
"Really, Peter? Last time i saw you, you were crying like a little girl, when the teacher found you without homework."
Peter bowed his head and slowly hid behind the group of boys. 
"Can't you see he is sad? That he was inside the church praying? How do you know what he is thinking about?"
The boys walked away one by one leaving Andrej alone with Helenka. She took him by the hand:
"Come, Andrej, let us go for a walk!"
The priest wanted again to say something but in the end he was silent and watched the two children walk into the woods. Lukas, Maria and Katka followed. They understood very fast that they were invisible to the people in the village. When they were alone between the trees, Helenka turned to the boy:
"Andrej, what is wrong with you? Have you seen something in the church? I can see it in your face that something extraordinary happened to you."
Andrej was quiet. Every gust of wind made yellow leafs fall over their heads. When he was able to speak Andrej did it in a whisper:
"I understood something today in the church . It was so silent and pleasant i could hear the saints speaking in the paintings. I have to become a priest."
Helenka was shocked first, then a crooked smile appeared on her face:
"And i thought you will marry me when you grow up."
Andrej looked terrified to the girl. Her face lighted up and she started to laugh with clear and beautiful peals of laughter.
"I am just teasing you, Andrej, do not worry. I am happy for you. Being a priest is a beautiful and noble thing. You have all my support."
Then she laughed again.
"You will become a famous priest or cardinal and you will run away from our small village to some very big city."
"Maybe, but even if i will be the most famous person in the world, when i grow old i will come back here."
"You say this now. You're a weird one, Andrej, you know that, Andrej, but in a good way. You know what i mean?" said Helenka and took his hand.
"Really" said the boy, who already recovered from his revelation and was now in a good mood "and can you tell me, who will you marry now, that i will become a priest."
"Maybe i will marry Peter and make a decent human being out of him."
The two children held tight hand in hand and walked together deeper and deeper into the woods. Katka, Lukas and Maria followed and saw Amber, the Autumn Fairy coming out from between the trees and explaining to the two children who she was. Then she told them that deep, deep in the middle of the forest there is a green lake ,full of water lilies. At the shore of the lake there is an angel guarding it and if you manage to find it and see the angel and you are worthy of it, he will grant you one wish. The children told the angel that they lived all their lives in the village and their parents also, but they have never heard of any lake in the forest. The fairy smiled and let them know that only certain people can see it, who are pure at heart and who believe in it. Andrej and Helenka decided to go, so they went first home and took in a small bag two beautiful cakes baked by the boys mother, a few nuts and two bottles of fresh cold water from the fountain in front of the girls' home. And so they went again hand in hand deep into the forest. Lukas, Maria and Katka followed behind very curious to see what would happen. They walked for hours and hours until they reached a beautiful clearing full of violet autumn flowers and surrounded by rusty leafed oak trees.They sat on a boulder together and being very hungry they put out the two cakes and prepared to eat. From the tall grass a small cry was heard and the children saw a small puppy, tired and hungry. Andrej looked at the poor animal and decided to give him his cake. The puppy ate hungrily and then ran away into the forest. Helenka looked at first at the running dog and then at Andrej.
"You had to give him the cake"
"I had to, it was hungry, I could not look at it and eat, i will be ok."
"You are hopeless, you know that" she replied smiling.
Then she took out her own cake and split it with her friend. They rested for a while and then they continued their trip through the thicker and thicker trees. It was a wonderful golden afternoon, warm and with a gentle breeze. Andrej and Helenka were walking hand in hand. Lukas, Maria and Katka were walking behind them in silence, even if they knew they can't be heard or seen. A fast shower of
rain fell and they hid under an oak tree. As they were sitting there and watching a beautiful rainbow that appeared in the evening sky, a small orange squirrel came out running around the grass and dead leafs. Andrej reached into his pocket and gave her his nuts. Helenka didn't even laughed, she just split hers with Andrej. They ate and drank water and watched the little animal run up the tree with her new nut in the mouth. As the rain stopped a beautiful white dove appeared in the sky and coming down sat on the lowest branch of the tree. It gave a long cry to the children and looked at them as if it was expecting them to follow.
"Should we go after him?"asked the girl.
"I have a feeling he will lead us to the lake, otherwise we will not be able to find it."
They followed the bird through a narrow winding path full of autumn violet flowers, yellow leafs and rusty chestnuts. The dove flew in front of them like a phantasm, so white and gracious and delicate. They climbed a small grassy hill and from the top of it they saw the wonderful lake, a dark blue-green color. It was surrounded by large weeping willows, whole yellow branches touching the water, it was full of white blooming water lilies, and swans were floating on it. As they sat on the shore of the lake, rested and washed their hands and faces in the clear and cold water they heard a small, painfully cry in the tall grass. They walked to it and found a red haired fox caught in a trap. Helenka cried, however Andrej stood down and started fighting with the trap to set the animal free. After a lot of trying they managed, and the boy took the fox in his arms  and washed his paws in the lake. 
"Why do people do this? Why do they trap things, and animals and other people? Every creature in this world must be free, free to love and live and enjoy the sun that God gave us."
The girl was very sad and she set on the ground helping Andrej. They cleaned the animal and streched it on the grass, then the boy gave it some water. However it did not look good, it was very wounded and hurting. The children understood that they will not be able to save it. As they sat down on the shore of the lake looking on the setting sun, a bright light appeared in the line of trees and started moving towards them. The children stood and waited. When it got closer to them they saw in the amazingly sparkling light a golden haired angel. Her hair was falling down her shoulders, she was dressed in a very large white robe, on which silver flowers and stars were embroidered. Two large white wings grew from her shoulders. She looked like floating and not walking.
"Good evening children!" her voice was gentle and warm.
"You are so beautiful!"exclaimed both of them.
"I have come to listen to your wish. I have seen you give your food to the hungry dog, the squarrel and helping the fox. That is why i think that you are worthy."
They were both silent and a little far away Lukas, Maria and Katka were waiting to hear their wish also. When the angel appeared they were mesmerized. Now Maria said in a very silent voice:
"I know what he will wish for, he is the nicest boy in the world."
"Yes, replied Lukas, I agree with you."
Katka remained silent and just took their hands in hers.
Andrej and Helenka didn't speak for some time, but then the girl said:
"This nis not for us to make a wish, this is test. I know what you want us to wish for, angel, but i do not have the power. I can't stop thinking of all the other things i would rather wish for. So i will let Andrej make the wish, for i know he has the power to always do the right thing."
Andrej drew a very deep breath and then told the angel:
"What is thte point of us wishing for rich things, when this animal will die. I could not live with this. I wish for it to be healthy again."
Just as he said these words the fox rose to its feet and run away into the forest.The children looked at it with a smile on their face.
"It was a test, said the angel, and you passed it, Andrej. That is why you are allowed for one more wish, just for you."
The boy though for a long time:
"I came here thinking about all kinds of material things, but now that i have to make the wish they all look like trifles to me. I wish to be free. Freedom is the most important thing in the world. I wish all my life to teach people and show people just how important freedom is, I wish to die a free man, when i am old and to return here to my village."
The angel smiled and put her hand on the boys head.
"Bless you, child, i have never heard a more beautiful wish as long as i can remember."
Then she raised his head a little and look into his eyes. She startled:
"Oh, child, what is inside your soul, what a future lies in front of you! You will be a priest and fight for freedom, people will admire you but there will be also a lot of pain. You must be brave and strong for in the end you will be blessed."
As the sun was setting down, making the forest and the lake purple the angel disappeared in that golden light. The children remained silent for a while, then Helenka asked him shyly:
"Do you still want to be a priest?"
They rushed back running to the village so as the night will not catch them in the forest. As they arrived home, both them and the other three children were exhausted. The whole village was dark by the time they got there. The windows were lighted and smoke was coming out of some chimneys. The cemetery was still full of people and the candles were making a beautiful spectacle of lights.
The image changed and they found themselves in the same village but on a bright spring day. Lukas, Maria and Katka understood fast that many years have passed since the their last visit. Helenka was now a grown up woman and was crying in front of the church. in her hands he held a letter from Andrej in her hands.
"Where is he?" asked the priest who just came out. "What are the news?"
The news were bad, Andrej had been falsely accused by people who did not like him to talk about freedom. He spend many years in prison, working and praying and never loosing his faith. The whole village prayed and hoped for him to come back.
The image changed again and the three children found themselves in the little church in the hamlet, to Peter's and Helenka's wedding. Andrej was presiding and looked really smart in his priests clothes. He spoke beautifully with his kind voice, blessing his former childhood friends.
Then they saw him getting old, fighting and speaking always and always about freedom. But he always came home and spend a few days in his village. He used to meet with his family, his old friends, talk to their children and tell beautiful stories. Then they watched him get sick and returning home and taking his place in the village cemetery. 
As the images finally blurred out Lukas, Maria and Katka woke up in the evening setting sun near their parents. It was very quiet and they were silently looking at each other. Then Maria walked towards her mother:
"I will help you with the cleaning, you were right, we need to keep promises."
The mother smiled and looked at the children.
"The maybe we can go into the forest and find the magic lake."
The parents laughed and stopped for a while.
"There is no lake, children, this is just a story the old priest used to tell us when we were small. Did he tell it to you also, Lukas?"
Lukas, Maria and Katka looked at each other:
"Adults, they know nothing."

Friday, March 10, 2017


When asking what i can visit fast and around Bratislava everybody recommended me Trnava. Trnava is one of the biggest and known cities in Slovakia. It lies on the river with the same name and was the first town in modern Slovakia to be granted civic privileges by the king. However what most attracted me to visit was the fact that Trnava has also the nickname or Slovak Rome or Small Rome. It got this name because of the many churches and old buildings which give the city a very medieval and rustic appearance. Since i very much love visiting and making pictures to beautiful churches, and especially old churches, we decided to make a one day trip.
We arrived very fast with the train from Bratislava early in the morning. Tomy own pleasant surprise the train station in Trnava is very nicely reconstructed and very modern. It is full of shops with souvenirs and newspapers and modern stairs.  

The Trnava railway station
The Trnava railway station

From the train station there is a shortcut to the city center however we preferred to start via the small streets around the train station. Also my husband wanted to visit the small, old fashion antique shops with vinyls and old books. We left with a full bag of both. 

Antique shop

Then we walked between the old buildings until we reached the more modern part of Trnava and passed along the new and modern hockey stadium and the new mall. However the old and new mingle in the town. Here and there between modern buildings you can still see the ancient city wall, which used to surround and protect the city.

Running around the streets of Trnava
The new stadium
The new mall

Hidden behind the beautiful new mall is a very important attraction in Trnava and that is the Zapadoslovenske museum, or the Western Slovakia museum. The museum contains historical and geographical documents and exhibits from the Trnava region. It also contains more buildings: the Monastery of the Poor Clare's, where most of the exhibitions are, the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Museum of the Book Cultures and other small buildings.

Zapadoslovenske museum
The old city walls

From there we walked on through the beautiful city small churches appeared between the new buildings. The crosses and towers of the churches appear from behind blocks of flats and houses. Somewhere on a beautiful street with trees i found the small elegant church of St. Josef. However i was not allowed to make pictures inside. This was the only thing i did not like in Trnava, in most of the church it was forbidden to make any kind of pictures. I would have gladly payed a fee for making pictures if available.

Trnava town
St. Joseph church

We walked long along the buildings and shops and found another pearl of Trnava, the synagogue. It is one of the most beautiful synagogue i have seen, old and large, made from white and red bricks. It is not functional anymore, however it holds a museum and in front of it there is a monument dedicated to the victims of the second world war. Near the synagogue there is a stylish and elegant coffee shop which has the name Synagogue cafe, where  you can sit and enjoy delicious coffee and cakes and dishes.

The Trnava Synagogue
Trnava Symagogue

We started again to walk this time towards the old city center where most of the attractions, churches and old buildings are. From the Synagogue we were able to see already the dark brown color of the Gothic cathedral of St. Nicholas. The dome is located in a very small and elegant square with the same name. The church was sanctified in 1211 and it is one of the oldest in Trnava. Even form far away you can see the wonderfully shaped and dark brown Gothic towers.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

The outside of the church impressed me by the fact that it is so simple, with white-yellowish painted walls and here and there red rick patches. Combined with the dark brown towers an the large arched windows it gives it an amazing beauty,that simplicity is the whole charm of the dome.

St. Nicholas square
St. Nicholas CathedraL

Cathedral towers

The entrance door to the church is baroque and above it is the statue of St. Nicholas, the patron of the cathedral.

The entrance to the cathedral

The interior of church leaves you totally unprepared. After the simpleness of the outside you are amazed by the richness of the altar, the large and impressively decorated organ, the beautiful pillars, the dark brown wooden pews, the golden decorations, the wonderfully painted walls and the colored windows.There is a quietness and coolness inside, it is sacred and pleasant place to sit and pray and reflect.

St. Nicholas Cathedral interior

St. Nicholas Cathedral interior

From the Cathedral St. Nicholas there are two way of returning to the city center, you can go directly to the center, however we took the detour to the visit the other major cathedral, dedicated to John the Baptist. from the outside the church looks also simple with white washed walls, large windows and it also has two towers, dark brown color. In front of the church there is a statue of Pope John Paul II. The facade of the cathedral has two inscription, one of which contains the name of the patron of the church.We can see the two towers with two large clocks.

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

John Paul II statue in front of the Cathedral

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

The entrance door has three pillars on which side and two angels as if guarding it from above. On which side of the door there are 2 statues of saints. Once you step inside you are speechless, the baroque altar and church decoration are spectacular. The altar is decorated with golden statues and flowers and other stylish decorations. The walls are decorated with beautiful and colorful paintings. The ceiling is a cream color and decorated with golden garlands and richly colored oval shaped paintings. The walls and ceiling look as delicate as lace. The cathedral is a must visit for every tourist who passes through Trnava and for everybody with a taste for history and art.

St. John the Baptist Cathedral interior

St. John the Baptist Cathedral ceiling

From the cathedral we passed via a small and quiet square, where a new modern university is built.

New Trnava University

Nice green square in the middle of the town

After that we finally reached the biggest attraction for the tourist, the old city center. We passed the small and elegant St. Anne church and a very large and colorful cake and coffee shop and we were in the main square.

St. Anne Church

Coffee shop in the Old Center

The square is called the Trinity square, mainly because of the baroque statue and pillar in the middle of it. The statue represents the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit on the top of a long and nicely carved pillar. On the bottom there is a statue of St. Rosalia sleeping in a cave, a symbol of her life as a hermit. Around her as if guarding her, there are statues of saints and angels. On one side of the statue there is the building of the theater Jan Palarik.

Trinity square
Trinity statue
St. Rosalia
Trinity statue

On the other side there is the famous Renaissance Trnava City Tower. The tower is visible from almost everywhere in the old city center. It has a sundial on the side visible from the square. On top of the tower is the statue of the Virgin Mary. The curious thing about the statue is that she has two faces, as the people of Trnava didn't want the Virgin to turn her back to any part of the city. I found that very interesting and sweet.

City tower

City tower

Back on a small street leading away from the square is visible another famous and baroque church, the Franciscan St. Jacob. It is in the same style as many of the churches in Trnava, which it's yellow, cream colored walls and the dark brown wooden towers and roof.

St. Jacob church

Entrance to St. Jacob church

Near the church there is a cafe and a shop for religious objects and dresses for priests and other religious orders.Behind the beautiful church of St. Jacob there is already visible the antique city wall, which surrounded the town in ancient times.

Religious shop

Coffee shop near the church

Returning the the main square you can sit and have a nice coffee and cake at the coffee shop under the City Tower. There you can admire the large square, with cobble stones on the ground, with millions of pigeons flying here and there, with the beautiful statues and facade of buildings and a few modern looking shops and buildings.

Trinity square

City square

After the coffee we rested again near the small fountain at the end of the church and then we proceeded on the main boulevard of the city center or Hlavna. This is a very long and large street guarded on both sides by beautiful and old buildings, wonderful colored houses, shops and restaurants, coffee shops and sweet shops, souvenirs and fast foods. On the middle there are bunches of beautifully flowers and trees or artificial flowers and from here and there benches where you can sit and relax and look around you. Here and there are terrace where you can sit and enjoy a meal or a drink or somethings sweet.

Trnava small model in the middle of the town

Main streeet
Fountains in the main street

Main street
Main street

Coffee shop on the main street

On the nice boulevard we stopped at a beautiful restaurant and we enjoyed a great lunch: a wonderful creamy tomatoes soup, perfectly cooked salmon with potatoes and caramelized carrots. Then we enjoyed also a blueberry, lavender lemonade.

Lunch in city center

Lunch in the city center

lunch in the city center

At the end of the street we found a small Greece-catholic church, a small and elegant little church, called the St. Helen.

St. Helen

After that we were again out of the old center. In a nice large square we found the last beautiful church from Trnava, the Evangelical church, a very modern building and a new style church.

Evangelical church
Square near the railway station

From the square full of flowers and trees we came out in front of the railway station. From the top of the railway station building we can see as we can from almost everywhere in Trnava the sugar factory tower.
As we entered the station the rain started so we were just in time.

Park near the railway station